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tv   Washington Week With Gwen Ifill  PBS  October 26, 2013 1:30am-2:01am PDT

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gwen: the key to getting out of a hole? stop digging. health care and spying on one's friends. we'll explain how tonight on "washington week." >> nobody's madder than me about the fact the website isn't working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed. gwen: but not soon enough, as the health care rollout stumbles from week to week, republicans smell opportunity. >> the rollout of obamacare is nothing short of a debacle. and the american people are now fearful of their health care. gwen: and democrats begin to worry. >> we're not interested in hearing about glitching. we're interested in moving forward. gwen: but can republicans resolve their own internal fight? >> they fought the good fight but that fight's over so now what are they going to do? >> i think at the end of the day, for conservatives, we lost the battle but we are going to win the war. just look at the debacle, the
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rollout of obamacare. gwen: can the administration regain its own footing on the world stage? >> the u.s. is reviewing the way we gather intelligence to ensure we properly balance the security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share. gwen: tell that to angela merkel. covering the week, john dickerson of "slate" magazine and cbs news. beth reinhard of "national journal." kimberly dozier of the associated press. and peter baker of "the new york times." >> award-winning reporting and analysis, covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week in review" this is "washington week" with gwen ifill. corporate funding for "washington week" is presented by -- >> at northrup grumman, we know in cyberworld, threats are always evolving. at first we were protecting
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networks, then we were protecting the transfer of data. and today it's evolved into infrastructure. finance. and military missions. we're constantly innovating to advance the front line in the cyberbattle wherever it takes us. that's the value of performance, northrup grumman. >> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is presented by prudential. additional funding is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. you may have heard, the government is open, the debt ceiling has been raised, and we're right in the thick of a new set of washington crisis. the white house announced today
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it has finally completely, definitively, found someone to fix the new federal website that has bedevil sod many who tried to sign up for health care. health which rolls out october 1 will be ready for primetime, really this time, by the end of november. and for now it appears health and human services kathleen sebelius will get to keep her job. >> the majority of people calling for me to resign i would say are people who i don't work for and who do not want this program to work in the first place. gwen: this is probably true but it's not the worst part of president obama's no good very bad week. >> the problem has been that the website that's supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. there's no sugarcoating it. the website has been too slow. people have been getting stuck during the application process. and i think it's fair to say that nobody's more frustrated by that than i am.
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gwen: and then the woman standing behind him fainted. so how did this big deal rollout go so wrong? >> her faint was a interpretation of the entire eek. healthcare came out and collapsed. the first government had to open more exchanges than they thought they would because some states decided they didn't want to so the burden was lifted on the administration a little bit. and then the department of health and human services delayed the regulations and instructions about how these exchanges were put together inside the administration and some say those were delayed because of the election year concerns. they didn't want to raise anything in creating these exchanges that would cause the president headache with his re-election. so that delayed everything, though. so now everybody is in a terrible rush. and we're talking about 55 different contractors putting this thing together. and at the top of it sits the centers for medicare and medicaid which is never run this
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kind of show before. so they're in a rush. there are a lot of them. and it's incredibly complex. but there's more problems. which is that at the end, they hadn't tested it in the way that you're supposed to test these kinds of things. not only did the top, the c.m.s., the centers for medicare and medicaid not test but the contractors didn't do the testing they should have done either. when they did test it, it collapsed under very little pressure. when it rolled out, there was a lot more pressure than they'd get, and it collapsed spectacularly. and i should say, finally, this is the president's signature domestic policy achievement and apparently he didn't know about it and the head of the department of health and human services didn't know about it. gwen: and yet it fell to him to walk into the rose garden and start hawking 800 numbers like a guy selling sham-wows in the middle of the night. >> damage control. he was trying to say two things, one, i'm furious and this is going to get fixed but the underlying product, the health care reform, his signature
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product here, is fine and it's ok. the problem is that -- and there's a kind of spiraling credibility problem here as they try to figure out how to get on top of this. the president said you can make a phone call. people went to make phone calls and i talked to one person who called up and they said, well, go to the website. so it was problematic and also, as you mentioned, they now say well, by the end of november they're going to have something that might work. but the problem is that they really don't know that. it might come in shorter than that. but the problem now is that they're still figuring out -- they're doing kind of an autopsy while they're also trying to revive the patient because they're trying to figure out what went wrong but also fix it very quickly and it's not clear whether they can do it. >> just what you wanted, a health care system, an autopsy while you're operating. listening to republicans talk about this, of course, they're very concerned about a program they don't support not working. but the democrats actually are the ones who might pay a price, right? and what is the political impact
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on democrats? >> funny, the republicans worked so hard to try and kill this, it's almost as if they're jealous the administration did a better job in undermining it than they did. for democrats, the problem is this, is that there's a credibility problem which is that people look at this and say this is just a mess. and we're getting story after story that doesn't turn out to be true and that links up with the bigger problem people have had about this health care program in the first place which is the president said you have a doctor and health care plan you like, you'll be able to keep it. that's not true. now, in some cases it's not true for sort of good reasons which is to say the health care plan you'll have will be better than what you had before but still, as the way politics works, the president makes you a promise and that promise doesn't turn out to be true, that's a problem. that's a problem for democrats. why? because the people who already have insurance are the ones who see this credibility problem, who see this disaster and think it's going to affect their health care and that scares them. and so that's why there are a lot of democrats saying let's
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fix this and they're feeling the heat. >> now, all this time, week by week, they were supposed to be signing up patients, and they're not. when do they have to have it fixed by before it starts crashing into the estimate and raising health care costs? >> right. so the real game here is try and sign up younger voters. that's the key. when you talk to the administration, they say we have one key thing to do with this website and that's important, get young people in because you need young people to improve the risk pool for insurance. they need to get those in fast. i think the drop dead deadline is the end of november. we'll see. gwen: as democrats work to get themselves out of the health care hole, the republicans were ready for a change of topic because they're busy fighting among themselves. compare the rhetoric of mississippi's trent lott, a former mississippi leader with kansas' current tea party house member. they both appeared on "the newshour." >> we don't need civil war.
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we need to focus on what is a good agenda for growth in america. i think what we need to do is focus on the positive and quit attacking each other. >> i know there are folks currently in the u.s. senate that said hey, that's not a good strategy but they had no strategy other than giving the president everything he wanted and that's a losing strategy as well. gwen: that tea party caucus is giving mainstream republicans hoping to get re-elected heartburn these days. beth reinhard are saying they're preparing to fight back. are they? >> they are. they've been talking about this really since november. when mitt romney, the republican nominee, lost and it exposed really how republican parties reach has gotten very narrow, so there's a lot of talk about expanding the reach of the party beyond conservative. then comes the republican party's poll numbers that get to the lowest record lows. so now you're having these conversations begin again in
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earnest and there's a sense of urgency because 2014 campaigns are starting to ramp up. and, you know, this rift between the establishment republicans and the tea party has just broken wide open. gwen: it goes deeper than ted cruz? >> it goes much deeper than ted cruz and it goes to races you'll see playing out all over the country over the next year and a half. in the house, in the senate, governors' races. you have a lot of big governors, tea party govern nors -- governors next year and it also crosses into the internal workings of the party. it goes to the leadership of the state parties who make a lot of the decisions about how candidates are going to be nominated. will it be an open primary where you have a large cross section of voters participating or at a convention where you have a few very conservative activists that usually dominate those kind of nominating conventions? >> you wrote your piece about how one of the leaders of the establishment of republicans
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wants to pick some races and go out and beat the snot out of them, is that what the phrase was? doesn't seem like the tea party will lie down and take it. what will their response be if this happens? >> this is really sort of a very delicate operation because more the establishment talks about we're here from washington and we're here to help, the more the tea party sort of gets their fists ready. but what else are they supposed to do? so it will be interesting to see how much more the tea party digs in. i would expect them to. you know, they have a lot of momentum, a lot of passion. you know, that he are -- gwen: they've been declared dead more than once before. >> sometimes in these races when you have the activist core of a party fighting against the establishment, the establishment in nonpresidential years has trouble because they're not as stirred up as the activists are who are in a permanent state of agitation. so people may want to bring in outside money into these races but is it going to be effective
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at all? >> i think people are motivated because there's so much at stake because republicans feel like they could have done better in 2012 and could have taken the senate and there were missed opportunities and now they see another possibility and they can't let that slip through their fingers. there's also the possibility of the house. the republicans have a pretty good margin but the party's numbers have been hurt so badly there's talk even a takeover of the house is possible. i think that will be a very motivating force. >> how is this going to play out on the popular level the next time a tea party candidate goes for a vote? >> well, i think you're going to see establishment republicans who in the past have been, you know, sort of grumbling under their breath about these guys that are, you know, extremely -- don't mean to say "guys" but ultraconservative. and the tea party folks have never been shy about criticizing
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establishment republicans. so i think in a way, they'll have to learn from the stea party to be a little less fearful. gwen: we're seeing it play out in virginia in governors races in places like idaho and alabama and all over the country, alaska. so the question for me is how do the mainstream or even the tea partiers discourage more claude aikens and christian o'donnell share their views but can't get elected? >> i don't know they can solve the problem. this isn't a thing where someone can develop a master plan in washinon and pass it out to all these states and everybody will follow it. you can't control who runs for office. in some of these races, you mentioned alaska and georgia is another one where you have many candidates running. it's not so easy for the establishment to just rally behind the one person they like when there's a lot of candidates. so it gets very complicated. gwen: ok. we'll be watching all of them. much more. but our domestic political
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gazing is nothing compared to the uproar of the policies stirred from abroad and that's from our friends. once again we have edward snowden to thank or to blame for new revelations u.s. spy agencies may have been monitoring the private telephone calls of as many as 35 world leaders. among the most obviously peeved german chancellor angela merkel. >> we are quickly tied in with the u.s. and entrusted as an important part of the relationship and now that trust has to be re-established between us. spying among friends is never acceptable. gwen: that seems to make perfect sense. what do we know about what really happened, kim? >> we're shocked, shocked that there is spying going on. gwen: drinking in this bar. >> yes, indeed. so according to some of the documents leaked by edward snowden, the u.s. national security agency may have within listening in to -- may have been
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listening in to angela merkel's personal phone calls and others. the white house has been coy about this we won't listen to them now and won't listen to them in the future but not said anything about the past. gwen: is that the meaning it is. >> they always come out with the same pat answer. so what this has done is lifted the veil off how espionage works. the u.s. and four other countries basically trust each other enough not to spy on each other. the five countries, britain, france, new zealand, and -- sorry, not france. britain and australia, new zealand, the u.s. and canada. beyond that, all bets are off. so spying on the french back and forth, we do that regularly. gwen: we do? >> we do. some places it's very aggressive. the c.i.a. officers will tell you when they go to a place like israel, they count on their hotel rooms, their homes, their
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computers being rivaled through. this is just part of the game. now, what the u.s. has said in its defense is everyone is relying on the u.s. intelligence service. we share our information with germany. angela merkel herself used that as a defense the last time there had been revelations about the u.s. spying on german citizens. she's just a little bit angrier now it's been revealed they were actually listening to her. >> it's interesting, she's not the first foreign leader to have this concern this year. brazil's president, dilma rousseff heard from media reports and her communications and she canceled a state visit in protest. the white house said at the time, the brazilians are upset because they don't actually spy. they don't have any world spying. the europeans are sophisticated grownups that they spy and they're not mad when they discover stuff. they look mad. >> mad but also this is an opportunity.
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they are using this now to demand a similar relationship with the united states like the five i nations. they want to take a look at more of this raw intelligence the u.s. sometimes shares. germans ending the national and international intelligence chiefs over to negotiate. so yes, everyone knows spying goes on but now that it's out in the open, why not take advantage of the u.s. humiliation over it? >> do we have any idea how much more of this will come out in the open? it seems like we're on a regular clock here. every couple of weeks we get something new. >> probably at least another year of revelations. according to some officials, we've only seen a small percentage of what edward snowden took when he was working as the systems analyst for the n.s.a. they're still trying to figure out every last document. they're really not sure. >> what does -- what role could
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edward snowden play in the most recent round of revelations? >> well, to hear him, or the lawyers representing him tell it, he gave batches of documents to various different reporters before he got asylum in russia because one of the conditions of getting asylum there was he was not going to continue to leak. he has sent this stuff out, though, in a complicated, encrypted fashion so that our undergo is that someone somewhere along the chain has to be cooperating to access some of the new documents. that said, we have talked to reporters, like "the washington post" told us at the a.p. that they had so many documents that they're still working through a lot of it to figure out what they've got. gwen: we laugh a little bit about this being like "casablanca" where drinking is going on but we heard the relationship with pakistan and the president is meeting with, has been very unhappy because of
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drone strikes and yet it seems pakistan may know about these new drone strikes a little bit but they have to say that they don't. is that part of what is going on here as well? >> well, this is another one of those situations where the u.s. for a very long time let pakistan basically pretend it didn't know the strikes were going on or weren't able to stop them when actually there were, behind closed doors, deals on where the u.s. could strike. now, the government of musharraf who agreed to those deals has long since passed away, but the u.s. is still sticking to those deals. and officials will tell you, we're going to keep flying the drones until they physically shoot one out of the sky. and occasionally the pakistanis cooperate with the u.s. when a target comes into view, that they want taken out and don't have the capability to reach. gwen: it's all very complicated, everyone angling for a position it seems like. well, there's always a
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temptation to believe everything we're witnessing right now, including everything we're talking about here tonight has never happened before. and that's almost never true. we have more evidence of that in peter's new book "days of fire, bush and cheney in the white house." there are tons of interesting nuggets throughout the book but for our purposes here tonight, here are two. president bush also encountered technical difficulties when he rolled out his own ambitious health care expansion in 2006 and spying on our friends and enemies became a staple of intelligence behavior of a president bush's patriot act was passed. let's start with the bush health care plan, peter. how is that like what we're seeing now? >> that's a great question. so he expanded medicare to cover prescription drugs. that was the big change in the first term of president bush. and if you go back and look at the stories about the rollout in 2006, guess what you see? you see words like "glitches," you see "website not working," and you see "confusion."
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in some ways that was an easier list than this one paw you were dealing with an existing population. we were expanding a program that already existed. medicare. they knew who the recipients were, the 40 million people who get medicare. in this case we're talking about uninsured people who we don't know who we are, we don't have a database for them and it was easier back then. i was talking to somebody about that today to make the comparison, and he said look, today's rollout problems is much more serious than what happened in 2000. that was a pro log to this and what we're seeing now is probably more systemic and difficult for the administration to move forward on. >> was the expansion as controversial as this health care law? i mean, was there as much of a struggle to pass the law in as much controversy after it passed? >> it's really been questioned. there was controversy and it was partisan. the republicans wanted to expand the drugs but they wanted -- the drug coverage, but they wanted to do it in a more what they saw
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as a free market way and democrats thought it was a pro business way and they thought about this. in fact, the night the house passed the plan, the house leadership republicans kept the vote open for hours trying to twist some arms and get the final few votes. there was an interesting moment, the president was over in europe and back to the white house and wake him up to talk to a few conservatives on a phone sitting in the cloakroom and got on speaker phone and one of the conservatives, a young, roughly junior republican says i want you to promise -- i'll give you my vote if you promise to put pro-life conservative on the supreme court. bush is like well, you know, let me tell you about my medicare program. no, i've got to have this commitment. and bush says enough. whatever he said, there's dispute about what he said, enough that the congressman walked away thinking he had the commitment and switched his vote. a lot of things go into this. the difference, though, that after it passed when the rollout happened, democrats were at that point interested in making it
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work. they were not still fighting it at this point like the republicans are still fighting this. so while they weren't -- they're critical, they had it in their interest to fix the problem. gwen: what about the surveillance piece of this and seemed like it really began -- this idea that we spy on everybody for every possible way for our own security began post-9/11. is that wrong? >> we've been spying on our allies and friends for decades, you know, henry stenson, the secretary of state once said we don't read each other's mail but we've been trying to read mail for a long time. and at times during the bush administration when they passed the patriot's act they continued these programs under obama that have been controversial. in march of 2003 they were getting ready to go to war in iraq and trying to get the passage of the resolution to the security council, the revelations they were flying -- spying on the phone calls of the
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u.n. delegation of the votes they were trying to win over and that didn't go over well. >> why did the obama administration support expanding some of these authorities. >> it's interesting because he runs for office saying i'm basically going to take a 180-degree turn from where bush was. bush had all these things wrong. and the truth is when you get in the oval office and they tell you, here are all the different ways bad guys are trying to kill americans and you're responsible if it happens. i think it begins to look different than it does when you're a candidate on the trail. it does. >> i was just going to say president obama benefits from some of the spade work president bush and vice president cheney did in terms of the heat they got. >> absolutely. the thing is he ran against bush his first term but had him by his second term. by the time bush leaves office he's actually moderated a lot of the controversial programs he put in place, shaved off the harsh edges and went to congress to get them to buy on some of them so when obama came in to promise to change them, he didn't have to make as many
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changes you might have thought because they were already changed. gwen: that's why presidents get along so well because they understand what the choices are. thank you very much. we have to go, but the conversation, as always, will continue online on the "washington week" webcast extra where peter and i will talk more about everything you thought you knew about the relationship between george w. bush and dick cheney is probably wrong. it streams live at 8:30 p.m. eastern and all weekend long. you can keep up with daily developments on the pbs "newshour" seven days a week and we'll see you again next week on "washington week." good night. >> corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> we went out and asked people a simple question, how old is the oldest person you've known? we gave people a sticker and
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this them show us. we learned a lot of us have known someone who lived well into their 9o's and that's a great thing. though we're living longer, the one thing that hasn't changed is retirement age. the question is, how do you make sure you have the money you need to enjoy all of these years? >> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is presented by northrup grumman. additional funding is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you.
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next on "newsroom" one transit strike ends and another is averted, but tensions remain. what does it all mean for the labor movement? with the national roll-out of obama care hobbling along, what can we expect from california's new health care exchange? the state's top campaign finance watchdog heads to the federal election commission in washington. >> we have been able to achieve consensus, and i'm hoping that we're going to be able to do the same at the s.e.c.


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